Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other - with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters' and granddaughters' lives.
What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters - and sisters - of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.
Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen's debut novel spans the 20th century, illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.
First published in hardcover in November 2011.
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"Encompassing the lives of women in the 20th century, this sprawling saga is tender and satisfying, with a heartbreaking end." - Kirkus Reviews
"I've rarely seen a novel that moves through a number of characters in such a sure-footed and always rewarding way. I really could not put it down. Nancy Jensen has the natural story-teller's ability to command attention, but with sophisticated psychological understanding and beautifully crafted writing. The Sisters is a needed novel that will become a very popular classic." - Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Adam & Eve and Ahab's Wife
"Readers will be both provoked and moved by this story of two sisters whose lives are lived apart yet, in the end, always tied by the bonds of blood and love." - Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
"First-time novelist Jensen redeems her soap opera plot... with an observant eye, adept characterization, and a keen grasp of social issues." - Publishers Weekly
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Nancy Jensen is a graduate of the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Northwest Review, Other Voices, Under the Sun, and The Louisville Review. She lives in Kentucky, where she was awarded an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. The Sisters is her first novel. You can visit her website at www.nancyjensen.org.
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"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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